Views
1 year ago

Poems by Isaac Rosenberg

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR

INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR never been able to get at them. It is a great thing to me to be able to tell you now in this way what marvellous pleasure your work has given me, and what pride that my work pleases yon. I had ideas for a play called ' Adam and Lilith 1 before I came to France, but I must wait now. 11 To Gordon Bottomley (Postmark, July 23, 1916). " Your letter came to-day with Mr. Trevelyan's, like two friends to take me for a picnic. Or rather like friends come to release the convict from his chains with his innocence in their hands, as one sees in the twopenny picture palace. You might say, friends come to take you to church, or the priest to the prisoner. Simple poetry,—that is where an interesting complexity of thought is kept in tone and right value to the dominating idea so that it is understandable and still ungraspable. I know it is beyond my reach just now, except, perhaps, in bits. I am always afraid of being empty. When I get more leisure in more settled times I will work on a larger scale and give myself room ; then I may be less frustrated in my efforts to be clear, and satisfy myself too. I think what you say about getting beauty by phrasing of 33 c

POEMS BY ISAAC ROSENBERG passages rather than the placing of individual words very fine and very true." To Miss Seaton {written in Hospital, 1916). " I was very glad to have your letter and know there is no longer a mix-up ahout letters and suchlike. Always the best thing to do is to answer at once, that is the likeliest way of catching one, for we shift about so quickly ; how long I will stay here I cannot say: it may be a while or just a bit. I have some Shakespeare : ' the Comedies and also Macbeth.'* Now I see your argument and cannot deny my treatment of your criticisms, but have you ever asked yourself why I always am rude to your criticisms? Now, I intended to show you 's letters and why I value his criticisms. I think anybody can pick holes and find unsound parts in any work of art ; anyone can say Christ's creed is a slave's creed, the Mosaic is a vindictive, savage creed, and so on. It is the unique and superior, the illuminating qualities one wants to find— discover the direction of the impulse- Whatever anybody thinks of a poet he will always know himself: he knows that the most marvellously expressed idea is still nothing ; and it is stupid to think that praise can do him harm. I 34